Dodge is a brand name of automobiles and light to heavy-duty trucks. From 1914 to 1927, the company was named the Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicle Company. The Chrysler Corporation acquired the Dodge company in 1928. In 1998, Dodge, along with all other Chrysler subsidiaries merged with Daimler-Benz. In 2007, Daimler sold 80.1% Chrysler Corp. to Cerberus. The new company was called Chrysler Holding LLC.
In 1901, John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge moved their Dodge Brothers Bicycle & Machine Factory to Detroit, Michigan. Their bearings and other parts were in demand with the early automobile industry, and they helped design motor parts for early Oldsmobiles.
In 1902, the Dodge Brothers were approached by Henry Ford, who was looking for help in financing his own automobile company. Dodge Brothers helped finance the start of the Ford Motor Company as well as manufacturing parts for early Fords, to Ford and the Dodge Brothers mutual financial benefit.
In 1914, the Dodge Brothers started their own auto company, which they named the Dodge Brothers Motor Vehicle Company, choosing 50 dealers initially from hundreds of applications, some of which remain successful today. In a boost to their fortunes, the Dodge brothers brought a successful lawsuit against Ford in 1917. In the same year, Dodge Brothers began building motor trucks as well, at first for use by the United States Army during World War, then commercially after the war's end. In 1925, the Dodge Brothers Company was purchased by Dillon, Read & Company for US$148 million, said to be the largest cash transaction in history up to that time. Dillon Read in turn sold Dodge to the Chrysler Corporation on July 31, 1928.
Following Chrysler's takeover of the British Rootes Group, Simca of France and Barreiros of Spain, and the resultant establishment of Chrysler Europe in the late 1960s, the Dodge brand was used on light commercial vehicles, most of which were previously branded Commer or Karrier (Rootes subsidiaries), on pick-up and van versions of the Simca 1100, and on heavy trucks built in Spain. The most common of these was the Dodge 50 series, widely used by utility companies and the military, but rarely seen outside the UK.
Following Chrysler Europe's collapse in 1977, and the sale of their assets to Peugeot, the Dodge British and Spanish factories were quickly passed on to Renault Véhicules Industriels, who gradually re-branded to Renault the range of vans and trucks through the 1980s, eventually dropping the products altogether and using the plants to produce engines in the UK and some real Renault truck models in Spain. Dodge would not return to the UK until the introduction of the Dodge Neon SRT-4, branded as a Chrysler Neon, in the mid 1990s.
Dodge, along with Chrysler and Jeep became part of DaimlerChrysler AG, based in Stuttgart. As of 2005, the Dodge brand has become known primarily for its trucks, which account for 78% of the division's sales. Dodge is attempting to change this with the introduction of the new Dodge Charger and the forthcoming Dodge Challenger. In 2007, Daimler sold Chrysler Holding to Cerberus.
The Dodge marque was reintroduced to Europe in 2006. Currently, the Dodge Viper SRT-10 (sold as the Dodge SRT-10 in the UK), Dodge Ram, and the Dodge Caliber are the only Dodge-branded vehicles in that market. The Dodge Nitro will be released in mid-2007.
Dodge recently re-entered the Australian market in 2006 after a 30 year absence. Dodge Australia plans to release a new model every six months for the next three years, amid plans to re-ignite the brand's interest down under. The first of such models is the Dodge Caliber, which was well received at the recent 2006 Melbourne Motor Show.
Dodge vehicles are now available in many countries throughout the world.
In 1966 Dodge took the Charger into NASCAR in hopes that the fastback would make their car a winner on the high-banks. But the car proved to have rear end lift around corners which made it very slippery on the faster tracks. The lift was because the air actually travelled faster over the top of the car than under it, causing the car to act like a giant airplane wing. Drivers would later claim that "it was like driving on ice." In order to solve this problem Dodge installed in a small lip spoiler on the trunk lid which improved traction at speeds above 150 mph (240 km/h). They also had to make it a dealer-installed option in late 1966 and through 1967 because of NASCAR rules (with small quarter panel extensions in 1967). The 1966 Charger was the first US production vehicle to have a spoiler. David Pearson, driving a #6 Cotten Owens-prepared Charger, went on to win the NASCAR Grand National championship in 1966 with 14 first-place finishes.
In 1969, in order to help Dodge battle Ford/Mercury in NASCAR, two special Chargers were built. The regular production Charger wasn't fast enough to compete with the Ford Torino/Mercury Cyclone. The first year for the Charger 500 was 1969. This car looked like a standard Charger, except that the rear buttress was filled in, and a flush-mounted 1968 Coronet grille was used with exposed headlights. The rear bumble bee stripes would also have a "500" cutout which would help to identify this new Charger. These changes would help the car aerodynamically. Only 500 copies were built to abide with NASCAR rules--hence the name "Charger 500". The only engine choices were the standard 440 Magnum or the 426 Hemi. Only 67 Charger 500s were built with the Hemi.
Despite all of the new changes, Ford/Mercury continued to beat the Chargers. Dodge did not stand idly by. They went back into the wind tunnel and unleashed a new Charger that changed everything.
NASCAR in 1969 stipulated that any car raced in their series had to be available for sale and must build a minimum of five hundred for the general public. Since the Charger 500 was not fast enough, Dodge went back into the wind tunnel and created one of the most outrageous and most sought after Chargers, the 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona.
The Daytona used a pointed nose piece that added 18 inches into the front of the car. This gave the car the down-force that the engineers were looking for, but the rear end still tended to lift at speed. To solve this, they mounted a large wing over the trunk lid which would give the Charger Daytona and its sister car, the 1970 Plymouth Superbird, the nickname of "wing cars". The wing was 23 inches tall so that the trunk could be open without hitting the bottom of the wing. Fenders and a hood from the upcoming 1970 Charger were used on the Daytona. Rear facing scoops were added to the front fenders, right above the tires, which mimicked their NASCAR brothers. While they looked cool, they also added an aerodynamic advantage. It was widely believed at the time that they were only used to help with tire rub in hard corners. In fact, they relieved the high pressure that would build up in the fender well at high speed.
Only 503 Charger Daytonas were built with either 440 Magnum or 426 Hemi power. All Daytonas wore red, black, or white bumble stripes that bore the name "Daytona" in the middle of the stripe. The wings were painted the same color as the stripes. The "wing cars" would prove to be so fast and dominating that NASCAR effectively outlawed them for the 1971 season, as a new regulation was introduced that restricted all "aero" cars to a maximum engine displacement of 5.0 L (305 in³), down from the previous 7.0 L (429 in³).
In 2001, the Intrepid made its debut on the NASCAR circuit, signifying the return of Chrysler to NASCAR Winston Cup competition after a 16-year hiatus. Drivers in the initial Dodge campaign included Bill Elliott, Jeremy Mayfield, Ward Burton, Sterling Marlin, John Andretti, Buckshot Jones, Kyle Petty, Stacy Compton, Dave Blaney,and Casey Atwood. Marlin was the first to win in a Dodge, giving the marque its first victory since 1977, with the late Neil Bonnett driving.
Return of the ChargerEdit
In 2005 the Intrepid was replaced both on the track and sales floor by the Charger. Although NASCAR stock cars bear only a slight resemblance to actual cars, Dodge's 2005 and 2006 NASCAR entries were based on the Dodge Charger, replacing the previous Dodge Intrepid. Unlike the Intrepid, the Charger shares rear-wheel drive and a V8 engine with its NASCAR counterpart.
Recently it was announced that all Dodge teams would run the new Avenger in the Car of Tomorrow races throughout the 2007 season.
- Dodge Cars, Trucks & SUVs
- Discover Dodge - Dodge Global Gateway
- Chrysler Group corporate official site
- Stock Mopar — site that features the Dodge muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s.
- Allpar A site dedicated to everything mopar.
- The Official Dodge UK site
- The Source Guide A site dedicated to the first generation Dodge Charger